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Alternative Traffic Control Devices

Signal Warrants - The installation of traffic signals is based on a number of warrants. Only after a location is determined to meet a minimum number of warrants is the installation of a traffic signal considered to be �warranted.� Unwarranted traffic signals may increase traffic delay and unsafe conditions for pedestrians and vehicles.

Because the change of traffic patterns and other intersection dynamics, it is possible that a traffic signal, even though it was warranted when installed, might not meet the warrants under current conditions. This may allow the replacement of the traffic signal with alternative traffic control devices.

Traffic Signal Alternatives - One alternative to traffic signals, and accepted by the Texas Manual for Traffic Control Devices, is the roundabout. There are several intersections in Houston where a roundabout may replace traffic signals, in particular intersections with five intersecting streets. For example: 20th/North Main, Navigation/Jensen, and White Oak/Houston. In these cases the roundabout would provide a safer and more efficient way to regulate traffic. In addition a roundabout would eliminate the cost of operating and maintaining traffic signals. Visit the FHA Highway Research Center for additional information.

Traffic Calming Strategies - Further consideration may be given to the use of alternative traffic control devices known as traffic calming strategies to reduce vehicular speeds and enhance pedestrian safety. These include: curb extensions, traffic tables, chicanes, medians, etc. See the FHA Traffic Calming web site for additional information.

Benefits - Following are some benefits of replacing traffic signals with alternative traffic control devices:

    • Improve intersection efficiency
    • Decrease traffic delay
    • Improve vehicular safety
    • Improve pedestrian safety
    • Reduce crashes
    • Reduce operation and maintenance costs
    • Enhanced aesthetic of intersection

Funding - Funding for improvements to intersection efficiency and safety can be done through the FHA Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, existing capital improvement program, and available public or private funds.

Implementation - Replacing a traffic signal with an alternative traffic control device should include at minimum a three-step process. First, conduct an engineering analysis to determine whether the intersection is an acceptable candidate. Second, engage the public through a public involvement process designed to educate and to create consensus. Lastly, develop designs based on appropriate engineering practices and implementation.


Flush Roundabout

Speed Table
by M. Wallwork

Narrow Road (Road Diet)

Curve Extension

Road Diversion


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